Debate over future of shopping centres

Corby Willow Place xmas shoppers:'22/12/11
Corby Willow Place xmas shoppers:'22/12/11

The changing face of north Northamptonshire’s shopping centres is leading to debate and disagreement among councillors.

Representatives from Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough and East Northamptonshire councils all sit on a joint committee which examines the retail hierarchy in the region.

And at the last meeting it was suggested that Corby should have the same prominence as Kettering.

The meeting also suggested an enhanced role for Rushden, with proposals for the new Rushden Lakes development expected to bring significant investment and jobs.

Kettering Council rejected the proposals from Corby Council, while other members raised concerns about the impact of the Rushden Lakes development.

The proposals were discussed at November’s meeting of the Joint Planning Committee.

The committee agreed that the retail hierarchy should not hold back any of the centres, recognising that it will be the market that determines where retailers locate.

Corby councillor Mark Pengelly said: “We are proposing that each town should be able to grow on its own and we should not favour any other town.”

Kettering councillor Terry Freer said: “The reason for the joint committee was to make sure we all work together and I think we need to stay with that. If we don’t, I think we will rue the day because we won’t attract the sort of investment we want.”

East Northamptonshire Council leader Steven North said: “There was always supposed to be an enhanced role for Rushden. The application which has come in, if it goes ahead, will raise the retail potential of the area.”

Rushden Chamber of Trade president Adrian House said: “We could do with as much help to attract people to the town centre as we can get. There is a terrible discrepancy with the number of jobs in the Corby location compared with Rushden.”